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Allen, Doris Twitchell : Home

Written by Heather Dent

Doris Twitchell Allen

Early Life, Education, and Career

Doris Twitchell Allen received her B.A. Degree from the University of Maine in 1923, and later she earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1930. She has been associated with the Psychological Institute of Berlin, the Childhood Education Foundation of New York, Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, and was the chief psychologist at Longview State Hospital in Ohio. She was associate professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati from 1942-1962, and adjunct professor from 1962 until she retired in 1972.


Dr. Allen founded the Children's International Summer Villages (CISV), a program to promote peace through developing cross cultural understanding in children. She firmly believed, "the ultimate source for peace, long range, lay with the children." The CISV rests on the underlying assumptions that the most serious questions facing our world is whether there are some ways that can be found for nations to live together resolving their differences with tolerance and mutual understanding: that the greatest hope lies in the development in all nations of leaders motivated to seek ways of achieving international understanding and better ways of reaching solutions of international problems; that the time to instill interest and motivation is when our future leaders are young; when basic attitudes are being formed. Attitudes formed during childhood are apt to stay with us for a lifetime.

The CISV website states that they "provide a range of unique, educational group activities, which develop cross-cultural understanding in children, youth and adults from around the world. By encouraging respect for cultural differences and the development of self-awareness, CISV empowers each participant to incorporate these values into their lives as they become global citizens and strive for a more peaceful world."

The first village was held in Cincinnati in 1951 with 55 eleven year old children from nine countries participating. This global community has been running for over fifty years now and has operated in over sixty countries since the first village. More than 190,000 people have participated in this international educational program.

These villages are held around the world each summer. Each of the villages has from forty to sixty eleven-year-olds representing from eight to twelve different nations, who come together for four weeks of camp life. Eleven years was selected as an age at which attitudes and prejudices have not yet taken hold but are being formed. This strategy held that at this age the child is young enough that cultural and racial differences is not an obstacle, but old enough that they are able to absorb and remember the international experience, appreciate its meaning and transmit their new understanding to friends and elders after returning home. The CISV alumni attend seminar reunion camps six or seven years later when they are seventeen or eighteen years of age. This allows them to renew friendships and take part in international seminars as young adults.

Dr. Margaret Mead called the decision to select eleven year olds as “a stroke of genius.” Walter Cronkite created a documentary called “Too Young to Hate” based on one of the summer villages held in Mississippi.


In 1971, Dr. Allen decided to extend the CISV program to take place during the school year as well as summer camps, so she found the International School to School Experience (ISSE). It was the first international exchange program to involve elementary school children. Berea Elementary school was the first U.S. school to participate in this program. They received a delegation of children and a teacher from Guatemala in the fall of 1972, and in the spring sent a delegation of 6th grade students and a teacher from Berea to Guatemala. The research report of Berea’s experience under the title An Adventure in Human Relationships has served as a model for further development of the program. Dr. Dwight Blackburn’s son remarked upon returning from delivering one of the child delegates from Guatemala to the airport, “Who could ever go to war with Guatemala if they knew Willie was there?”


Dr. Allen was a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society Group Psychotherapy, the Society of Applied Anthropology, and the Inter-American Society of Psychology. She has served on the national board of Psychologist Interested in the Advancement of Psychotherapy and has been a member of the White House conference People to People program. She has also served as president of the International Council of Psychologist.


The University of Maine awarded her with the honorary Sci. D. degree in 1965. In 1961 she was honored by the government of France with the award, "les Palmes Academique" established by Napoleon in 1808 to honor distinguished contributions in the fields of literature, science, and art. She also received a gold medal from the city of Stockholm, Sweden in 1953 for her work in international relations. Berea College awarded her with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1975. In 1979 Doris Allen was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, the same year that Mother Teresa was the recipient.

Works Cited

Krevelen, Alice V. “[To The] Honorary Degrees Committee.” December 1974. Print.


Additional Resources

Berea College Vertical File, Special Collections and Archives: RG 11 – Honorary Degrees III, Berea College Archives

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